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Full text of "My Country And My People"

IDEALSOFLIFE

from mistress to servants had gone to sleep and Taiyti, sitting
behind the beaded screen, heard the parrot calling the master's
name? Was it a mid-autumn day, that memorable mid-
autumn day of a certain year, when all the sisters and Paoyii
were gathered to write poems and mix in light raillery and
bantering laughter over the feast of crabs, in a happiness so
perfect that it could hardly last, like the full moon, as the
Chinese saying goes? Or was it a pair of innocent newlyweds
on their first reunion on a moonlit night, when they sat alone
near a pond and prayed to the gods that their married life
might last till death, but dark clouds came over the moon, and
in the distance they heard a mysterious noise as if a wandering
duck had splashed into the water, pursued by a prowling fox,
and the young wife shivered and ran up a high fever the next
day? Yes, life which is so poignantly beautiful is worth record-
ing, down to its lowliest details. It seems nothing of this
earthly life can be too material or too vulgar to enter literature.
A characteristic of all Chinese novels is the incessant and never-
tiring enumeration of the names of dishes served at a family
feast or a traveller's supper at an inn, followed frequently by.
stomach aches and trips to the vacant lot which is the natural
man's toilet. So the Chinese novelists write and so the Chinese
men and women live, and it is a life too full to be occupied with
thoughts of immortality.

This realism and this attached-to-the-earth quality of the
Chinese ideal of life has a basis in Confucianism, which, unlike
Christianity, is of the earth, earth-born. For Jesus was a
romanticist, Confucius a realist; Jesus was a mystic, Confucius
a positivist; Jesus was a humanitarian, Confucius a humanist.
In these two personalities we see typified the contrast between
Hebrew religion and poetry and Chinese realism and common
sense. Confucianism, strictly speaking, was not a religion:
it had certain feelings toward life and the universe that bor-
dered on the religious feeling, but it was not a religion. There
are such great souls in the world who cannot get interested in
the life hereafter or in the question of immortality or in the
world of spirits in general. That type of philosophy could never
satisfy the Germanic races, and certainly not tie Hebrews,
but it satisfied the Chinese race—in general. We shall see